Teachers face loss of salary over Garda vetting requirements

Up to 600 long-serving teachers may miss deadline to complete retrospective vetting

Tomás Ó Ruairc, director of the Teaching Council, said vetting was vital in upholding public confidence in the profession. Photograph: Getty Images

Tomás Ó Ruairc, director of the Teaching Council, said vetting was vital in upholding public confidence in the profession. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Hundreds of long-serving teachers could lose their salaries due to their failure to complete Garda child-protection vetting requirements.

Teachers who qualified a decade or more ago are now obliged to pass vetting checks as part of retrospective child protection safeguards.

However, the regulatory body for the teaching profession is concerned that as many as 600 teachers who have been requested to undergo retrospective Garda vetting could miss a deadline later this month.

This would mean that those teachers would then be unable to work as Garda vetting is now a requirement for all members of the profession renewing their registration with the Teaching Council. Until recently, only recently recruited teachers and those moving schools have been required to obtain Garda clearance, which is administered by the Teaching Council.

Mandatory

However, up to 33,000 teachers hired before 2006 – when vetting became mandatory for new applicants – now face Garda checks for child-protection reasons.

Throughout this year the council is writing to randomly selected groups from this unvetted group of teachers, asking them to apply for vetting in advance of their registration renewal.

If they do not comply with the request, these teachers are putting their registration with the council at risk.

This also has salary implications because, since January 2014, registration with the council is a requirement in order to receive a State-funded salary.

In January this year, the council requested the first group of approximately 6,700 teachers to apply for retrospective vetting. All these teachers have a renewal date of March 28th, 2017.

Second stage

While the majority of this group has complied, just over 700 teachers have yet to apply, while a further 425 have to complete the second stage of the application process.

The Teaching Council has sent letters, emails and text reminders to the teachers concerned.

“The council is particularly concerned about those who have not engaged to date, because the end-of-March deadline is approaching. Based on current figures, up to 600 teachers could lapse from the register for not engaging with the vetting process as requested,” it said in a statement.

“It is important to note that only those who have received notifications requesting that they apply for vetting are obliged to do so in advance of their renewal date.

“As the year progresses, the balance of the 33,000 teachers will be requested to apply for vetting on a phased basis up until next December.

“All school principals and boards of managements have also been written to notifying them of the retrospective vetting requirement.”

Public confidence

Tomás Ó Ruairc, director of the Teaching Council, said vetting was vital in upholding public confidence in the profession.

He said legislation places clear responsibility on the council to have regard for the welfare of children and vulnerable adults in all aspects of its work.

“We take this responsibility very seriously, and so do teachers. That is why it is essential that they comply with the request from the council within the set timeframes. This is a serious legal process.”

Mr Ó Ruairc also pointed out that teachers who hold a Teaching Council vetting letter, or who have completed vetting since April 29th last year through the council, are exempt from the retrospective vetting process.

He said detailed information on the retrospective vetting process, including retrospective vetting, was available on the Teaching Council’s website (teachingcouncil.ie).

In addition to a check for criminal offences, Garda vetting involves a search of “soft information”. According to the Department of Justice, this is “information other than criminal convictions held by the Garda that leads to a bona fide belief that a person poses a threat to children or vulnerable persons”.